Small Wars Journal
  • “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”
    -- Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • “It's so damn complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong and you're dangerous.”
    -- Lieutenant General (Ret.) H.R. McMaster
  • "If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don't take the shot. Don't create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act."
    -- General (Ret.) James Mattis
  • “So, I’m going to give you a proposed solution,” Zinni told the group. “I’m going to say we need to create an interagency command” to manage America’s response to complex or “hybrid” security crises. “I hate to use that word, ‘command,’ because I don’t mean it to be military.”
    -- General (Ret.) Anthony Zinni
  • “Strategic pioneers who create theories, concepts, and other intellectual tools for use by doers have been scarcer than hen’s teeth throughout human history. Sun Tzu, Mahan, Liddell Hart, Herman Kahn, and Bernard Brodie, the world’s first nuclear strategist, are prominent exceptions. Lenin, Mao, Giap, Billy Mitchell, and a handful of others who practiced what they preach, remain even rarer.”
    -- Colonel (Ret.) John Collins, The Warlord Emeritus

Home, Above Feeds, Annoucement



New and now available at Amazon - Blood and Concrete: 21st Century Conflict in Urban Centers and Megacities provides a foundation for understanding urban operations and sustaining urban warfare research. This Small Wars Journal (SWJ) Anthology documents over a decade of writings on urban conflict. In addition to essays originally published at SWJ it adds new content including an introduction by the editors, a preface on “Blood and Concrete” by David Kilcullen, a foreword "Urban Warfare Studies" by John Spencer, a postscript “Cities in the Crossfire: The Rise of Urban Violence” by Margarita Konaev, and an afterword “Urban Operations: Meeting Challenges, Seizing Opportunities, Improving the Approach” by Russell W. Glenn. These essays frame the discussion found in the collection’s remaining 49 chapters. Blood and Concrete continues the legacy of Small Was Journal's coverage of urban operations, conflict and combat. - Dave Dilegge, Robert J. Bunker, John P. Sullivan, and Alma Keshavarz, Editors.



Paratrooper Drop - Army paratroopers descend during a training exercise onto Juliet drop zone in Pordenone, Italy, 13 February 2019. U.S. Army photo by Davide Dalla Massara.

"Small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

-- Small Wars Manual, 1940

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by Max G. Manwaring | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:04am | 0 comments
Venezuela is basically what it always has been—only worse under Nicolas Maduro. As a consequence, Venezuela has moved into a downward spiral from an aspiring New Socialist state to failing state status.
by Said Sabir Ibrahimi | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 2:02pm | 0 comments
Pundits who urge the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan argue national security interests and point out to threats emanating from Afghanistan. Indeed, 17 years ago, it was national security that took the U.S. military to Afghanistan. To date, the presence of more than 20 transnational terrorist groups in the region continue to justify the American military involvement in the country. However, a broader question that is rarely asked is whether counterterrorism is the only issue that brings the two nations together?
by Patricia H. M. Morrissey | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 4:52am | 3 comments
In order to make a clear case that the aggregate efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (or Daesh as they are called in some countries) are showing progress towards “defeating” ISIS, we must understand the nature of this movement as a competition between its local jihadist groups and existing government leaders and institutions, at all levels, for the allegiance or submission of the population. In other words, we must address it for what it is: a networked global insurgency.
by Lydia Kostopoulos | Sun, 02/17/2019 - 1:21am | 0 comments
Technologically, the world in 2051 was even more interconnected, operating on 5G and leveraging the spatial web where augmented and virtual realities served as mediators between the real ‘touch and feel’ world and the digital world. All the while, artificial intelligence was approaching ‘general’ intelligence and scientists around the world cautioned that it was imminent and that the existing global infrastructure was not going to be able to respond to the potential risks that have been hypothesized to arise.
by Franklin C. Annis | Sat, 02/16/2019 - 2:26am | 0 comments
Georges Clemenceau once asserted that “War .. [is] much too serious a thing to be left to the military”. U.S. Service Members would recognize this assertion to be true as applied to modern warfare. Clemenceau’s assertion presents an interesting follow on question. If war exceeds the limits of the military, should the recording of military history also be perceived as a task exceeding the abilities of Department of Defense historians? In this paper, we will examine Clemenceau’s original assertion and if demonstrated to be true will examine the question of who should be responsible for the recording and the examination of military history.
by Pamela Ligouri Bunker, by Robert Bunker | Sat, 02/16/2019 - 1:18am | 2 comments
On the surface, while such low levels of unemployment may appear to represent the triumph of unfettered capitalism and the belief in the benefits of a globalized—and supranational—liberal economic order, something far more ominous for the Western middle classes is taking place. Full-time jobs with benefits and secure retirement packages are increasingly being replaced with low-paid and part-time “gig economy” positions as a new involuntary labor model. This labor model not only benefits predatory (i.e. hyper efficient extractive) capitalism but may also be considered a component of the larger transition to human worker replacement by robotic automation and artificial intelligence (AI) systems and the continued hollowing out of the Western welfare state by the plutocratic class.
by Michael van Ginkel | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 5:15am | 1 comment
The long-term deployment and regenerative capabilities of SFABs creates an opportunity to capitalize on situations short of conflict. According to USAID, premature attempts at democratization resulted mainly from failures to “develop the political and social infrastructure to a level that could absorb (manage, resolve or transform) the conflicts that arose” prior to hosting elections.
by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:09am | 0 comments
This incident highlights the traditional rivalry between the two LA-born gangs and demonstrates that this rivalry and violent competition continues among their NYC affiliates. Gang graffiti related to both gangs has been reported in neighborhoods near the subway shooting incident. Such graffiti has been targeted by the local NYPD precincts (110th PCT and 115th PCT) in neighborhood graffiti removal project.
by Samuel Casey | Thu, 02/14/2019 - 1:03am | 1 comment
The ACFT is a bold step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough in the areas of pragmatism and its use as a cultural node for the US Army. This event ties each of us in uniform together and serves to showcase that each of us deserve to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest. It is important that we use the lessons learned in the last decade plus of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq to better prepare ourselves for the next war. If we do not, then we risk being in the same position as the Army was in when we entered the war in Korea with Task Force Smith.
by Gary Anderson | Wed, 02/13/2019 - 1:36am | 0 comments
It is too early to draw conclusions about an agreement that has not yet been reached, but it is not too early to think about how to wage war by other means against the Taliban once some kind of peace agreement has been reached. Helping the Afghan government win the peace should be our next role in that troubled nation.

Blog Posts

by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:28am | 0 comments
"The U.S. and allies need to deal with local grievances, which give Salafi-jihadi groups their opening."
by The Wall Street Journal | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:24am | 0 comments
"The Kurdish commander leading the fight against Islamic State in Syria urged the U.S. to reconsider its decision to withdraw all its forces and instead leave a small contingent in the country."
by Voice of America | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:21am | 0 comments
"Islamic State fighters are refusing to surrender to U.S.-backed Syrian forces and are asking for a safe exit from their last stronghold in eastern Syria, local military officials told VOA Monday. Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish alliance, said that IS fighters have been surrounded in a small area in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour."
by The Atlantic, by Defense One | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:19am | 0 comments
"Future extremists will focus not on exporting violence to the West, but on building influence in their own communities."
by The New York Times | Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:17am | 0 comments
"Militants in Kashmir struck again on Monday, killing an Indian Army major and at least three other soldiers just days after orchestrating a devastating bombing that left dozens of Indian security forces dead."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 4:23pm | 0 comments
"Five security personnel were killed in an encounter with militants in Indian-administered Kashmir on Monday, deepening concerns that the territory is entering a new cycle of violence days after a suicide bomber carried out the deadliest attack in decades."
by The Los Angeles Times | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 4:13pm | 0 comments
"Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate once spanned territory larger than South Carolina. The extremist group controlled the lives of more than 8 million Iraqi and Syrian residents and established its own currency, a taxation system and a sprawling bureaucracy that went so far as to dictate what its subjects were allowed to wear and to think. Its fighters vowed they would conquer Rome, Paris and Washington."
by The United States Institute of Peace | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 3:55pm | 0 comments
"The peace accords signed by the FARC and the Colombian government provided for this novel approach to dealing with former fighters. Besides the customary individual process that has accompanied other disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts, the government agreed to support what is called collective, economic and social reincorporation."
by Reuters | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 1:45pm | 0 comments
"A senior French officer involved in the fight against ISIS in Syria faces punishment after launching a scathing attack on the US-led coalition's methods to defeat the group in its remaining stronghold of Hajin, the army said on Saturday."
by The Washington Post | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 4:03am | 0 comments
"When Dar drove an SUV packed with explosives into a convoy of Indian security personnel on Thursday, he carried out the single deadliest attack in decades in a region torn by strife. The bombing may mark a turning point in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where an insurgency against Indian rule has waxed and waned since 1989. The militancy is far smaller than it was at its peak, but it is increasingly drawing local recruits."
by The Wall Street Journal | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 3:36am | 0 comments
"Islamic State militants hiding among civilians have slowed an advance by U.S.-backed coalition forces in Syria, said the top American ground commander, a setback in the fight to reclaim the last vestiges of Islamic State’s territory."
by The New York Review of Books | Mon, 02/18/2019 - 3:18am | 0 comments
"The migrant caravan that left Honduras and headed north toward the US last October is the largest flight from drug trafficking in history. Though the phenomenon of Central American caravans isn’t new, never before have thousands of people decided to flee from criminal organizations in such numbers. It is, in a sense, the biggest anti-mafia march the world has ever seen."
by The Washington Post | Sun, 02/17/2019 - 4:21pm | 0 comments
"Swarms of small attack drones that confuse and overwhelm anti-aircraft defenses could soon become an important part of the modern military arsenal, Britain’s defense secretary said, something that would mark a major evolution in robot-enabled warfare. Speaking at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank, British defense secretary Gavin Williamson said Britain will fund the development of 'swarm squadrons of network enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defenses.'”
by The Brookings Institution | Sun, 02/17/2019 - 1:26pm | 0 comments
"This paper revisits the debate that raged in American defense circles in the 1990s over whether a revolution in military affairs was imminent in the early parts of the 21st century. It also seeks to establish a benchmark, and reaffirm as well as refine a methodology, for forecasting future changes in military-related technologies by examining what has transpired in the first two decades of the 21st century."
by The New York Times | Sun, 02/17/2019 - 12:36pm | 0 comments
"More than four years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation appealed to the public to help identify the narrator in one of the Islamic State’s best-known videos, showing captured Syrian soldiers digging their own graves and then being shot in the head."